Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The rest of the post from earlier in the week....lots going on!

Wednesday  thru Friday (30th-May 2)

The next morning we went without breakfast to get back on the road. It took until 2:30 to get to Milwaukee, and believe me we only stopped for lunch to eat on the go. We called ahead and asked if we could go to the apartment first to drop off our stuff before going to meet President Cutler and his wife. We were staying at the Mission Home that night (Wednesday), and we needed to change our clothes and repack a suitcase. Besides after unpacking and packing our car so much, it was about to cave in on us in the front seat, and we needed to get out from under it. It had been a long trip. We hurt all over, and felt the need to find a gym quickly.  Several of the roads we got on in Illinois were toll roads. They were charging $3.60 every 30 miles. We spent considerable time looking for the side roads.

We got to the apartment and were pleasantly surprised. It is more low rent housing, but the apartment itself is nice and clean. It has new carpet (I don’t feel a pad under it), and we have a bed which we had to buy linens for as well as several odds and ends to get comfortable within the  apt. There is no dishwasher which was the biggest disappointment, but I can deal with that. I bought rubber gloves to wash the dishes. We did have to laugh though when we saw that we would have to put most of our furniture together. This includes two dressers, two night stands, a desk and chair.

We quickly unpacked and then repacked one small suitcase for the night and went out to find the Mission Home. I will tell you that it may take a while to figure out where we are going in this town. The roads are in pretty bad shape, no matter which way you go.  Thank goodness for GPS. It seems we make a mistake everytime we go somewhere, but it will get easier.

We met President Cutler and his wife. They are very nice people. We got to talk to two sisters who were waiting for us when we got there. They want our help in fellowshipping a brother in their ward. They will get back with us about it.  Then the two missionary couples from the Mission Office came with two Elders. For the most part, the Missionaries in this area ride the bus everywhere. It sounds like a slow way to get back and forths. It sounds like the Sisters have more luck on the buses than the Elders.  They really go out to meet and get peoples’ attention. We were going to eat dinner with them and before the food was fixed, the Elders told us about a brother who was just baptized in our Branch, and maybe we could talk with him about some outreach ideas. They said he is Stake Presidency material.

We all got a moment to talk about our conversion and then had dinner. Very simple and elegant. Sister Cutler is just like that also. They have a 16 year old daughter who came to dinner. It would seem hard for her to leave her home and come out with her parents, but if it is, she hid it well.

After dinner, we had a testimony meeting and felt the spirit.  We began talking about our MTC experience, especially about meeting Brad’s uncle and aunt there. One of the couples asked if we had gone to the meeting the Sunday after we were released from the MTC. We told them we had Easter with our family. She said that one of her friends there had told her that President Uchdorf (Sp?) had come to speak, and he had hugged a blind brother while there. We then told how we had met this Brother and Sister and how they were special to us. Sister Cutler looked at us (no one had said that it was Brother and Sister Gardner) and said she bet it was Ron Gardner. We looked at her in astonishment and asked how she knew him. She had stopped dating Brother Cutler for a while to date Ron because he was such a good dancer. We told her we had heard that he and his dad (Grandpa Gardner) had danced at the wedding. Is it a small world or what?

We went to bed at an early hour for Craig and I. I guess we will have to get used to going to bed early. The mission time is to get up at 6:30. We should study for an hour by ourselves and then an hour together. We don’t have to do it all in the morning. We truly can make our own schedule.

On Thursday, we got to our apartment to begin to make sense of what we needed and how to go about getting it. We have dishes, silverware, two lounge chairs, a bed, trash cans, and small bookcase. When we get the other things together, we will have enough. There is plenty of room in the kitchen cabinets, and although it is small, it is just right for us. We have a parking spot in the underground garage. There is a washroom down stairs at the end of the hall. We also have a little private area in the basement for our suitcases and boxes to be stored. However, it smells like animals have used it as the bathroom, and it stinks to high heaven.  The appliances look like new, and we have a toaster, blender, a new sweeper, and of course, a mop and broom. There are also a few pots and pans. We can manage.

Thursday, we had an appointment to go to one of the chapels (may have been the Stake Center for the other Stake in the area). There are two Service Missionaries there who help facilitate the Pathway program for BYU Idaho. It is the 30+ members who want to get back into college for about 65 dollars an hour. It is a great program, and the missionaries encourage them. After the first year, they can continue on their own and as long as they are on the online program, their tuition does not go up. The first year they started the program, only about 70 people enrolled. Now, there are over 7,000. The school is scrambling to keep the program running smoothly it is growing so fast.

We will start in September with the new year. The missionaries working with the program now are moving to Madison and will be out of the Stake. They seem to be really marvelous members of the Church.  We also met the Stake President for that Stake and one of the Bishops from there. We believe we are in the South Stake, but we could be mistaken. There is so much to learn.

On Friday, we met with our missionaries. We had to drive to their apartment which is on the south side of town. It seemed to take a good while to get there. We had to start the day (planned to go to gym and finally, admitted that was not going to be possible) going to the Mission Office because Salt Lake said our drivers’ licenses were expiring. We had to let them copy our licenses to prove we were ok.

Anyway, we picked up the missionaries, and they showed us downtown. Marquette University is here and covers most of the south side of Milwaukee. It is huge. Every corner has a magnificent Catholic Church, most look really old. We saw an art museum that is free on the first Thursday of each month. Guess where we are going in June. There are a lot of Spanish people downtown and a lot of interesting stores and buildings that would be so fun to explore. There are also those places that you do not want to get caught in at night.

We went by our City Branch building also. What a building it is. The Church built it in the early 1900’s, sold it, and then bought it back. It has three floors and is obviously very old. There are 17 active families, and most of those don’t live within the branch boundaries. They come over to help the branch survive. The building is surrounded by a black neighborhood, and most of these people go to a Church a block down the street. There are almost no children for Primary, only a few girls and boys for the Young Men/Young Women program. The second counselor is also the Executive Secretary and Ward Clerk. We want to find out more about the history of the building and are excited to meet those who attend. One family is Hmong – Laotian or Vietnamese who supported the U.S. in the Vietnam War. We have special missionaries for them. We will meet with the Branch President on Sunday to see how we can help them.

We will be working with those who will provide a booth at the Polish Fair in June. This booth will have computers and will be about genealogy. We have a district meeting on Tuesday which will be about genealogy. Yeah, maybe I can keep up with my work here. There are two of the largest cemeteries I have ever seen here, and I’m so wanting to visit them.

We got our wifi up and running tonight. Finally, do you know how dependent we are on our technology. I felt like I was being deprived.  So far, we have gotten one bedside table almost finished, and one dresser almost put together. My hand is getting a blister from screwing in the screws. Ugh!

We are settling in and hitting the ground running. Craig gave a pass along card to a lady in the grocery story yesterday. Tonight, we talked with the cable man for a while about the Church. Who knows what will happen. 

We are very blessed, and I mean blessed. We think of you all daily and miss our friends and family. Oh, I forgot, our freezer unit wasn’t working so they took it away and brought in an old, old one to hold us over until the first part of the week when they promise we will get a new one.  One can only hope.  Haha  The apartment people are really nice, and I hope they do help us.

Take care.
Elder and Sister Lenhard

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